Rejected by some as a “marketing term”, security operations center as a service (SOCaaS) is gaining traction and emerging as a low-key market as it addresses some key challenges that most organizations face, while also meeting other security and financial goals.
What is SOCaaS?
Essentially, the term SOCaaS refers to a type of managed security service (MSS) cloud-based, built on a multi-tenant software as a service (SaaS) and goes beyond the Managed Security Services (MSS) offerings of managed security service providers (MSSP).
Like MSS, SOCaaS includes all monitoring and management of intrusion detection systems, firewalls, anti-virus and anti-spam systems, virtual private networks (VPN), endpoint protection ( EPP) and Endpoint Discovery and Response (EDR). However, SOCaaS also provides:
- Access to a team of analysts to resolve each alert, identify and analyze indicators of compromise (IoC), and analyze and respond to attacks to minimize the impact of security incidents.
- Help optimize an organization’s protection, detection and response capabilities through continuous assessment and reporting, including advice on security strategies and policies.
SOCaaS therefore includes services that are generally managed detection and response (MDR) solutions and can be seen as an evolution of both MSS and MDR.
While the term SOCaaS tends to be preferred by newer service providers, older organizations tend to offer services that meet the definition of SOCaaS as part of their MDR offerings. It is therefore important for user organizations to focus on the benefits of services that meet the SOCaaS definition rather than whether these services are referred to as SOCaaS or not.
With increasing demand for a comprehensive cloud-based detection and response capability including monitoring and analysis, the term SOCaaS is gaining ground in Europe and is likely to become the dominant term to distinguish these services from standard MDR and other more generic managed services. Security services.
Why is SOCaaS necessary?
The trend towards digital transformation and cloud services to improve efficiency, increase agility, and reduce costs has quickly and dramatically expanded the attack surface of most organizations.
Cyber attackers have taken advantage of these trends as the workforce becomes increasingly mobile and remote, accessing applications, systems, services and data both on-premises and in the cloud from outside the corporate network. business. The rapid increase in the number of people working from home during the Covid pandemic has accelerated this trend and worsened the risk.
In an effort to secure sensitive data in order to comply with a growing number of data protection regulations around the world, and to protect intellectual property and other commercially sensitive information, most organizations have invested heavily in on-premise and cloud-based security monitoring tools.
For many organizations, however, this has resulted in an avalanche of security alerts generated daily. For most of these organizations, especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs), it is difficult if not impossible to investigate and analyze every alert.
The emergence and adoption of SOCaaS was driven by a combination of:
- The inability of most organizations to handle the overload of security alerts.
- The desire to get more value from existing security investments.
- The need to expand security oversight to include the cloud, operational technology (OT) and internet of things devices (IoT).
- The desire to achieve continuous improvement by measuring the effectiveness of current security investments.
In addition, SOCaaS solutions demonstrate to auditors a concerted effort to cover all cybersecurity risks and enable comprehensive and standardized threat detection and response capability.
Another key factor has been the cybersecurity skills shortage affecting organizations of all sizes. SOCaaS provides a way to harness the benefits of a Security Operations Center (SOC) or additional SOC resources without having to find and retain the right people with the right skills. SOCaaS also provides a way to increase capacity quickly and at a much lower cost than maintaining additional capacity in-house.
What are the advantages of SOCaaS?
Faced with an increasingly demanding and rapidly changing business, IT and cyber threat environment, the demand for SOCaaS is increasing as most organizations see the value of the benefits offered, including:
- Uninterrupted and comprehensive centralized monitoring and analysis of enterprise systems to detect suspicious activity at a fixed, predictable monthly or annual cost.
- Improved incident response times and practices.
- Faster detection of security events such as compromise and threat containment.
- Resolved all alerts to get the most out of existing systems.
- Reduced costs and business impact of security incidents.
Although MSSPs provide a wide range of services, they tend to generate too many alerts that need to be investigated. They also tend to lack advanced threat detection and resolution skills, require fixed and long-term contracts, and require a specific technology stack.
MDR vendors, on the other hand, can provide round-the-clock monitoring and fill the skills gap, but a heavy reliance on endpoint telemetry results in a high rate of false positives. MDR vendors also typically require a specific technology stack, offer limited visibility, and do not include remediation.
For many organizations, especially SMEs, SOCaaS is the only way to:
- Consolidate all security threats, tools and systems into a single point of control to handle and resolve all alerts.
- Monitor and respond to all indicators of potential compromise by analyzing all security data.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of existing controls to identify how this can be improved.
- Get additional value from existing security investments.
Taken together, these four factors distinguish the SOCaaS market from standard MSP or MSSP offerings, which typically:
- Do not cover all cloud environments.
- Not all are built on cloud-based SaaS platforms.
- Do not provide any analysis or guidance on developing a more effective security posture.
What size of organization benefits from SOCaaS?
While the requirements of user organizations vary widely by size and industry, SOCaaS has something to offer all of them.
While micro and small businesses tend to need SOCaaS to meet everyone’s needs COS functions, large organizations tend to use teams of SOCaaS analysts to supplement internal teams, while midsize organizations typically fall somewhere between these extremes.
As a result, most SOCaaS vendors typically specialize in focusing on one or two of these sub-segments, and very few cater to all market segments equally. The trend to specialize to meet the needs of a particular market sub-segment is expected to continue.
SME-focused SOCaaS providers will refine their offerings to provide insight and guidance for organizations to co-manage their security with external SOC teams, for example, while mid-to-large and super-large enterprise-focused providers will expand their capabilities. in terms of risk, state-of-the-art security. , and OT and IoT security.
As SOCaaS has become a quiet market and no organization can say it doesn’t need a centralized and coordinated view of its security posture and ability to respond to threats and incidents, all services do not provide everything to all organizations.
It is therefore important that each organization:
- Recognizes the importance and benefit of consolidating all threats, tools and security systems into a single point of control to process and resolve all alerts, monitor and respond to all IoCs, and assess the effectiveness of existing controls.
- Develops an in-depth understanding of their current and future cybersecurity monitoring and response requirements from an MSSP.
- Recognizes that some SOCaaS offerings are better suited to organizations of a particular size and industry, with some providing specialized support for regulated industries.
- Identifies the service providers that best meet these needs, whether or not the service is called SOCaaS.
SOCaaS offerings as defined above address the significant challenges facing most organizations in the digital and post-Covid age. They offer benefits to organizations of all sizes and types and therefore deserve to be considered as part of any cybersecurity strategy.